What To Replace Fiends With?

Regardless of what you are worldbuilding, whether it’s for a novel or an RPG game, you often need an end-stage villain like a Fiend (demons, devils, or what-have-you). But as I’ve mentioned in prior posts, you might want to shy away from using “real-life” Fiends. You might want to avoid using “entities” that can be traced back to real world religions like Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, or whatever.


Why Should You Replace Fiends?

There is a slew of reasons involved with, for lack of a better term, “political correctness.” Do you want to offend a billion+ Christian by using demons/devils like Asmodeus and Mammon, or do the same to a billion+ Muslims for their religious figures, etc….? I’m inclined to think you shouldn’t, at least not without weighing the pros and cons of such.

Anyway, I really don’t want to discuss “political correctness” issues, because, well, I’ve never really been a fan of “political correctness,” and I think, in the end, the GM should be able to do whatever he/she wants. Having said that, I want to focus, instead, on the issue of your personal creativity.

Using Your Creativity

Ignoring the aforementioned “politically correct issues,” you can use whatever creatures and beings you want to pilfer from the collective mythology of our planet (just respect copyright issues, of course). But, at some level, that’s kind of “easy” to do and, I think, kind of wastes an opportunity to “stretch your creative muscles.”


Let’s look at a few examples from fantasy literature of the past. Consider, the Balrogs of J.R.R. Tolkien – although they were called demons, and they were clearly influenced by Judeo-Christian mythology, they are very unique creations and highly memorable. Who can forget Gandalf facing off against the Balrog on the Bridge of Khazad-dum?


Next on the list, I think, is H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulu mythos. This, in my view, is even more conceptually distant from any other mythology I am aware of. The gods of that mythos are, again, very unique and highly memorable.

Tad Williams

Next up, is Tad Williams’ Sithi from his series “Sorrow, Memory, and Thorn.” They are, pretty much, derived from European myths based around Elves and similar beings, but again, they do come across as pretty original and memorable.

Other Religious Mythos

Other options might include something derived from Islamic Jinn – but only after you research and understand the Islamic conception of such, and not the Western bastardization of such. However, in the end, you kind of want to put some distance between your creation and its source of inspiration. You probably should avoid creating a Jinn like Ibliss (Satan), for example, but instead do your own thing.

My Own Works

It is difficult. But I think it is worth it. In my own series of books (“From the Ashes of Ruin”), to be honest, I’m a little disappointed in my own interpretation of demons (Yeah, I know -that’s poor marketing to admit that – I still think the series is great overall, though). I like many of the names (Lubrochius, for example, is my favorite demon name of my own creation), but when it came to describing the demons, I fell back on the standard lizard-ish physical descriptions for most of the demons – although there are a few exceptions.

Be Memorable

The goal is to create something “memorable.” In my own books, I think I have some really good names like “Drasmyr” and “Lubrochius” and a few others, here and there, but I kind of wish I’d gone in another direction with the natures and descriptions of the demons. The vampire is fine. I always wanted to write a book about the traditional, Dracula-esque version of a vampire. And Drasmyr does just that. But the demons … well, I have some reservations.


Anyway, as I said, when it comes to Fiends or other end-game villains, be memorable. Your readers and/or players will be grateful for it.

Published by atoasttodragons

The author, Matthew D. Ryan, lives in northern New York on the shores of Lake Champlain, one of the largest lakes in the continental United States, famous for the Battle of Plattsburgh and the ever-elusive Lake Champlain Monster, a beastie more commonly referred to as Champy. Matthew has studied philosophy, mathematics, and computer science in the academic world. He has earned a black belt in martial arts.

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